Book 2 in the Harmless Military Series
Part of the Harmless World
Loving a military man isn’t always easy and sometimes living with him is impossible.
Deke Berg has been in love with Sam for ten years. From the moment they met, they could never keep their hands off each other. Their marriage was volatile and short-lived, and they were both much too young. Now, though, Deke knows what he wants in life, and Sam is at the center of his plans. Unfortunately, Sam is wary of marriage—especially to a man who broke her heart.
Sam has always loved Deke. Being a former military brat, she thought she’d been prepared for life as a military spouse. But the long separations were hard, especially dealing with the stranger who returned home. When he refused to get help, she left and always regretted it. She doesn’t know if she can handle that pain again, but after spending a night together in Hawaii it’s impossible for her to ignore him.
Old prejudices and painful memories aren’t easy to overcome, but there is one thing Deke understands: Sam is the woman for him and he will do anything to prove his love and win her back.
»WARNING: The following book contains: Another hard-headed military man, a woman with a wicked temper, a trip to Hawaii, one Hell Week, a few embarrassing moments, nosey brothers, and two people too stupid to realize they are perfect together. It’s Harmless and military, so for your own safety make sure you have ice water nearby. The author assumes no responsibility for overheating of the reader.
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Deacon Berg drew in a deep breath of the sweet Hawaiian air, enjoying the way it tickled his nose and filled his senses. Soft music played in the background as the wedding guests milled around the expansive buffet, but Deke ignored it for a view of the resort. He couldn’t believe he was standing in Honolulu, enjoying the setting sun over the Pacific. Less than a month earlier, he’d been in South America on a rescue mission, and now he was enjoying a Hawaiian sunset.
“Enjoying the view?” Mal asked from behind him.
Deke glanced over his shoulder. “Yeah, I am. Why aren’t you living over here with your brother and sister?”
He offered Deke a cocky smile. “You know I live for the Navy and the Seals.”
Deke shook his head. He was pretty sure Mal’s heart was engaged elsewhere, but Deke didn’t comment on it. Malachai Dupree wasn’t ready to admit why he couldn’t settle down, and pointing it out would just piss Mal off. Deke knew better than to try to get his friend to face his personal fears. As a man who had been avoiding his for years, he was pretty good at knowing that.
Kade, the happy groom, stepped up. “Have you decided what you’re going to do?”
“Coming here isn’t making the decision any easier. I was pretty sure I was going to move to Coronado. They don’t ask just anyone to teach.”
“No, but you said you never wanted to do it.”
He shrugged and looked out over the beach. It had been a secret desire of his for years, but he had only told one person that. “The job over at Camp Smith is looking more and more attractive. Hard to resist views like this one seven days a week. Maybe I should move to New Orleans and steal Shannon from you?”
“I’d have to kill you, Chief.”
“She could file for an annulment,” Deke said.
Kade gave him a big smile. “Too late for that.”
He shook his head. “Sex has to happen after the marriage.”
“And your point?”
Deke laughed. “I should have known when you guys disappeared it wasn’t about the pictures.”
Mal looked from one to the other then made a face. It was at that moment, Deke heard a laugh dance over the air to him. Mal was saying something, but Deke ignored him. He knew that laugh.
He knew it better than he knew his last name.
“Chief?” Mal asked.
“What?” he asked, irritated. Dammit, if Mal didn’t shut up, he wouldn’t figure out where it was coming from.
“You have an odd look on your face.”
He didn’t answer Mal. Deke knew she was there. He could feel it in his bones. It always seemed to happen like this. They would finally break free of each other, able to move on to healthier relationships, then by chance they would run into each other. It was as if the universe was bound and determined to keep them together when they both knew it was wrong.
Then he saw her. She was walking with a group of women. God, she was gorgeous. Even ten years later, she still made his temperature rise. She had her hair up, with a few blonde curls trailing down her neck. The blue dress reached her ankles and clung to every luscious curve. She wore a pair of strappy sandals, and he just knew she had painted her toenails.
She was still laughing, and he had to, also, in the sight of her. She was never a woman who had one of those tinkling giggles. Her joy was out loud and for everyone to see. The sound was one of the greatest things he had ever heard.
He also knew what she sounded like when she moaned his name.
She spotted him and came to a dead stop. He couldn’t help the way his heart turned over when she made eye contact. They were so far away, but he knew the moment she did. Her smile faded. The woman standing next to her said something to her, and she shook her head.
Mal stepped up beside him. “Pretty. But she doesn’t look like she thinks you’re her type.”
Deke drew in a lusty breath and let it release slowly. “Oh, but I am.”
“How can you be so sure?” Mal asked.
“She wouldn’t have married me if she didn’t like me.”
With that, he took one last swig on his beer, set it down on the table, and marched in her direction.
“Holy Jesus in a skirt,” Zoe said beside Sam. “Is that military dude coming over here?”
Sam didn’t dare look at her friend. She couldn’t tear her gaze from Deke. Something warm unfurled in her belly as she watched him stride down the path that led to her. She wanted to run the other way, screaming, but that would make her a coward. And Samantha Walters wasn’t a coward.
“I think he’s coming over here,” Fiona said from behind her. “I can’t see, though, because you’re both standing in front of me.”
They ignored her until she kicked Zoe in the back of the knee.
“Woman, I am going to smack you upside the head,” Zoe said, but she moved out of the way. “I swear to God, one of these days I’m going to leave you in a deep hole you can’t get out of.”
“Is that a short joke?” Fiona asked.
“No, but you are.”
“Shut up. Just shut up,” Sam muttered beneath her breath. Usually she took joy in her friends’ bickering, but she couldn’t today. “What the hell am I going to do when he gets over here?”
“You’re going to say, ‘This is my friend, Zoe. She would like to meet you and have a one-night stand.’” Zoe took a sip of her drink. “Also mention I like to be spanked.”
Sam laughed, but there was no humor in it. “I’m not about to throw you at my ex-husband.”
There was a beat of silence, which with her two friends, usually took a miracle. There was one thing she was certain of, Deacon Berg was no miracle. There were times she had thought he was a curse.
“The ex? The one you say drives you crazy? The one who you can’t keep your hands off of?” Zoe asked.
She nodded as she watched him walk toward her. As always, people moved out of his path without realizing it. It had always been that way ever since she’d met him years ago in California.
“Oh, mama,” Zoe said.
“You let that go?” Fiona asked. “I think you need some help.”
“It was do that or one of us was going to kill the other.”
She still couldn’t look away from him. He was in his mess dress, which meant he had gone to something formal. He could always fill out a uniform so well. The setting sun sparkled off the wealth of medals that crowded his chest.
God, the man never failed to turn her on when he was in his uniform. Of course, he could be wearing a lounge-lizard suit and she would be ready to jump his bones. Or nothing. Yeah, she would really like to see him wearing nothing at all.
She shook her head, trying to clear the image, but she knew it only too well. All those sculpted muscles and that little line of fair hair that bisected his abs. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Hell, her panties were damp already and she hadn’t even spoken to him.
Sam opened her eyes.
“Who is that tall drink of chocolate next to him?” Zoe asked.
It took her a second to realize that there was another man beside Deke. He was in mess dress also, but the rank on his arm told her he was an officer.
“I have no idea.”
He came to a halt in front of Sam. He hadn’t looked anywhere else as he had walked to her. Now, he was looking at her as if she might disappear. “Samantha, what are you doing here?”
It took her a second to gather her thoughts. “I live here now.”
She had picked it because she had thought never to see him. It wasn’t that there weren’t a ton of military on the island, but she knew that he never wanted to be assigned to the vehicle teams the Seals had here.
“Sam?” Zoe poked her in the back, and she shot her friend a nasty look before looking back to Deke. He hadn’t taken his gaze from her.
“Oh, right, this is Zoe Anderson and Fiona Farelli.”
He glanced at her friends and smiled. “Nice to meet you, ladies.”
Then he turned his attention right back to her. She could practically hear her friends sighing. She couldn’t blame them. Inwardly, she was sighing also. And melting.
When he didn’t introduce his friend, she nodded her head in the man’s direction. For a second, he didn’t react. Then Deke glanced over at his friend.
“Oh, sorry. This is Malachai Dupree.”
The other man gave her a smile that normally would have stopped traffic. The fact that Malachai was dressed in mess dress with a chest full of medals also made him impressive. Sam was pretty sure Zoe and Fiona melted beside her. But, as always, when Deacon Berg was in the vicinity, she didn’t notice other men.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Wedding. One of our friends got married to Mal’s sister, Shannon.”
The silence strung out for a few moments while everyone else just stood by. She could hear the music from the wedding reception along with the low murmur of tourists milling around on a Saturday afternoon. She was about to make an excuse to leave, but his friend stopped her before she had a chance.
“Hey, why don’t you ladies crash the wedding?” Mal asked.
Before she could say no, Zoe stepped up next to Mal and took his offered arm. “I would love to do that. Come on, Fee.”
Fiona glanced at Sam, and she could tell her friend was making sure she was okay. Fiona smiled and took Mal’s free arm, and he escorted her two friends off. The traitors.
“I’m not sure your friend knows what he’s getting into,” she said.
He didn’t say anything for a moment, and she had a flashback to the first night she met Deke. He’d had the attention of every woman in the room, but when he’d walked up to her, he’d seemed to lose the ability to talk. It was a stunning thing to make a prime hunk of man tongue-tied. She would have been more impressed with it if she hadn’t had the same exact problem.
He shook himself and seemed to gain his wits again.
“Mal’s a Seal. He can handle two women.”
She let one eyebrow rise. “Is that from experience?”
He chuckled. “Despite Mal’s efforts to boast about his escapades, I try my best to ignore them.”
“Let me guess, the man talks a little too much?”
He nodded. “Ready for some Scooby Snacks and cake?”
She tried not to be charmed that he remembered their code name for the horrible hors d’oeuvres they’d been forced to eat at official functions. It was hard, but she resisted. She knew there was no way out of it. Tearing her friends away from food and beverages—not to mention men in uniform—was going to be hard. And a glance over Deke’s shoulder told her there were plenty of both of those things here.
She brought her attention back to Deke. God, he was smiling at her, waiting. It was that smile that always made her heart do that little dance. Right before she threw all her good intentions out the window and gave in to the temptation of Deacon Berg.
But Zoe was her ride, and it was Hawaii. He was probably not going to be there very long, knowing him. She would just be good and she would resist him. It could be done.
She blinked and looked at him. “Sure,” she said.
His smile widened, causing his dimples to appear and her blood temperature to rise. He was attractive, that’s it. This time would be different. She glanced over at him and saw the way the setting sun danced over his skin. Need swelled in her. Her blood heated to dangerous levels, and she felt her head start to spin.
Shit, she was in trouble.
End of Excerpt
Jun 6, 2012
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